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longwinded report of my ny trip

p
pat hammond Oct 16, 1998 01:38 PM

I have just returned from a week in NYC and I felt I'd
never be hungry again. Wrong! My first night back in
St. Louis I felt suddenly deprived when I realized I
had no dinner reservation anywhere. For six nights in
NY I ate from six different nationalities. Three
evening meals and one particular lunch stand above the
rest.

Lunch at Payard. I had the croque monsieur: gooey,
crusty, and totally delicious. The pastry display
cases reminded me of a jewelery store; everything was
so beautiful. I had the chocolate tart with a bit of
gold leaf on the top. My companions waited too long to
ask for a bite!

Dinner #1. Next Door Nobu, no reservatons allowed but
at 7:15 we were seated immediately. Our waitperson was
a peculiar combination of haughty and helpful. She
volunteered, "I hate Japanese food"! In order of
deliciousness was the red snapper sushi on a layer of
soy and citrus sauce (but it was too thin for a real
sauce). The flavor of it still haunts me. I tried to
find it commercially but no one had it. I'm
inclined to call it a gastrique, and I would, if I
could be sure what the word means. Spicy creamy crab
was all the name implies, made with snow crab we were
told, although it looked more like Dungeness. The
black cod in miso glaze was as delicious as it was
beautiful. It looked almost lacquered and was
meltingly tender and perfectly cooked. Those were
definitely the highlights.

Dinner #2. With family and new friends nine of us
convened at Spice Cafe. There were enough of us for a
fine variety of appetizers. My favorite was the
salmon, wonderfully flavorful and tender. "beggar's
purses" were like samosas with potato, chicken and
other fillings, were soon eaten up. There was a
wonderful cheese app. too, but by then my taste buds
were reeling. My main course was lamb chops,
wonderfully seasoned with some sort of spice rub, I
think. The best surpise was the dal, which I usually
ignore. It was dense, very flavorful and truly
special. And, oh, the breads! Service was very fine
so far as I was concerned. An excellent value for a
large group too.

Dinner #3, and saving the best for last, was at Babbo.
Our reservations were at six and we were lucky to get
them. The young woman who waited on us was extremely
helpful, knowledgeable of the food, but also very
professional. I lit into the bread after giving my
drink order. It was very crusty and rustic but with
the most amazingly moist crumb, almost reminded me of
angel cake. A chickpea tapenade followed as we
discussed the menu. I chose the beef cheek ravioli in
an intense truffle sauce. My main course was 2 minute
squid, very spicy (but not too) in a sauce that had
caper buds, jalapeno and a tiny round pasta
(couscous?). The squid was so tender it might have
been l 1/2 minutes. The occasion for this special
evening was my 60th birthday and my dessert was a
chocolate covered semi-fredo with 2 candles on top.

Clearly, I've been too long winded. Anyway, thanks to
chowhound friends, family, and to New York. It was a
great trip.

  1. j
    Jim Leff Oct 16, 1998 06:30 PM

    "Clearly, I've been too long winded"

    nah...we're always grateful for in-depth chow reporting
    around here!
    Glad you had a good trip!

    ciao

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
      s
      stephen kaye Oct 17, 1998 09:44 AM

      glad you dug Babbo, joe basianich a good friend of ours. we eat there often. next time you're in town, hit piccola venezia in astoria queens, btwn laguardia airport, and triboro bridge. 718 721 8470, its also fab!

      1. re: stephen kaye
        s
        Scott Reiner Oct 20, 1998 01:46 PM

        I agree with Piccolo Venizia, som eof the best italian
        in all of NYC. Especially if you want only the best
        wine at great prices.

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